Serious Materials Reclaims a Second Shuttered Window Factory

Serious Materials Reclaims a Second Shuttered Window Factory

Serious Materials is working to revive another failed factory by rehiring workers and replacing the product line of the former owner with the California company's brand of high-performance windows.

Drawn by the firm's efforts, Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Roland Burris and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley paid a visit to the site earlier this week.

"This is a story about how we inspire a better tomorrow," Biden told workers.

Republic Windows and Doors, which had employed almost 300 people in its 268,000-square-foot factory in Chicago, abruptly closed its doors right before the holidays in December. Outraged workers, who received scant notice that they were losing their jobs, and other members of the community staged a sit-in outside building.

The protest captured national attention as well as that of Serious Materials CEO Kevin Surace, whose company is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. In February, his firm closed a deal to acquire Republic's assets.

It marked the second time in just a few months that Surace and his team had stepped in with a plan to put a foundered window factory and its employees back to work on a new product, the company's SeriousWindows lines.

The first effort resulted in the reopening in March of a window factory in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. Kensington Windows, the former owner, pulled up stakes in October and left 150 people jobless. SeriousWindows has put the first wave of laid off workers back on the job and plans to restore more as demand for the windows builds.

Serious Materials' work to reclaim the shuttered factories and reinstate jobs was praised by Biden in February and then by President Barack Obama just last month.

The Chicago operation recently started rehiring and so far has brought back 15 workers to get the site up and running, according to Serious Materials Chief Marketing Officer Sandra Vaughan. The firm plans to formally reopen the factory in about 60 days.

During the visit to the site on Monday, Mayor Daley told the workers, Surace and his Serious Materials leadership team, "Today, because of the hard work and determination of many people, this factory is once again providing jobs for people at the very time jobs are most needed in our country."

Image courtesy of Serious Materials.